AMES, Iowa – No. 18 Iowa State (3-3, 0-0 Big 12) prevailed in four sets (25-18, 23-25, 25-14, 27-25) over No. 25 Northern Iowa (3-3, 0-0 MVC) on Wednesday night in front of a raucous Hilton Coliseum crowd.
“This was a huge match and a match that we needed,” Iowa State head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said. “I think we’re better than what we showed tonight, but that was a pretty amazing comeback there in the end. I think we showed a lot of grit.”
The Cyclones trailed the Panthers for much of the fourth, falling behind 17-21 before a late rally. With the score knotted at 25-25, the Cyclones registered a pair of blocks, the first by Alison Landwehr and Jamie Straube. The second block, by Straube and freshman Mackenzie Bigbee, sealed the Cyclone victory.
Senior Rachel Hockaday had the hot hand on the night, hitting a blistering .344 (14-3-32) and picking up 11 digs in her third double-double of the season. Sophomore Victoria Hurtt added 13 kills, Bigbee had 11 and Straube contributed 10 kills to go along with a .364 average and four block assists.
A trio of Panthers posted double-digit kills as Amy Braun paced the visitors with 14 kills and 15 digs. Megan Lehman added 13 kills in the effort and Shelby Kintzel had 12 kills.
In the first set, Hurtt led all scorers with four kills as the Cyclones held the Panthers to no hitting percentage, collecting three blocks and 17 digs for the 1-0 match lead.
Down 14-8 early in the second set, the Cyclones fought back to make set two a battle. Iowa State drew as close as 21-20 before two kills from Braun gave the Panthers set point, up 24-22. Kills from Hurtt and Kristen Hahn gave Iowa State a last hope but Krista DeGeest came through for the visitors, tipping over the deciding kill and evening the match at a set apiece.
Iowa State found an offensive groove in set three, hitting .367 in a set that saw the teams trade points until tied, 10-10. The Cyclones picked up three-consecutive points on kills from Hurtt and an error by Braun and the lead was all Iowa State would need, drawing ahead for good and winning the set by 11 points.
This weekend, the Cyclones will host their annual Iowa State Challenge. Competition will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday with Iowa taking on Syracuse. Iowa State will play Eastern Washington at 12:30 p.m. The night session kicks off with Syracuse and Eastern Washington at 4 p.m. followed by Iowa State and Iowa in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk series match at 6:30 p.m. All times central.